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The sacred rituals of vows

Not long ago, I read an article on vows and bad omens in one Sunday newspaper. In it, there were factual examples of mysterious ailments and deaths of men and women who had broken vows of a life of sanctity.

By PROSPER TINGINI

Names, dates and places were given of men of the clergy or nuns who were befallen by misfortunes of all sorts after either breaking or transgressing sacramental vows to serve God under the umbrella of churches.

One major church most affected by such afflictions was mentioned in this instance. Within the churches some people commit themselves to be of full time service to the Lord our God by taking vows of obedience, private vows, vows of poverty, vows of celibacy and etc. For the clergy, it is said that the vow of celibacy in this particular church is an iron law and is the first vow to be taken before any other vow. The vow of celibacy prohibits the person taking it from engaging in any intimate sexual activities and from marriage. One is then presumed to be “married” to the church, to Christ and to God the Almighty. The vows are thus carried out in the names of one of these, or all of them.

To get a better understanding of the issue of vows, let’s get to the original source. First, let’s look at the third commandment of God which states, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). Most vows are taken by swearing an oath of commitment through something sacred or swearing in His name. The Lord our God is thus warning all partakers using His name never to break that oath of commitment in whatever vow one undertakes. Any such vow remains an unbreakable sacrament which has to be fulfilled without fail. Any failure is a transgression of God’s law, thus attracting a variety of consequences on to the perpetrator. It should therefore not come as a surprise if mysterious things happen to those guilt of this offence.

Jesus Christ weighed in on this topic of swearing and vows. In the book of Matthew 5:33-37, He spoke; “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn’. But I say to you, do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his foot stool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply “yes” or “no”; anything more than this comes from evil (the evil one).

Jesus Christ is the greatest religious teacher of all time. He is a wise interpreter of the scriptures and magnifies issues to broaden the meanings. Once you take a vow, you are bound by it for life. You have to ensure its fulfilment without fail. Mankind has a habit of swearing by someone or something in an effort to try to emphasise the truth. In our religious spheres, in our courts of laws, in our everyday life, this practice is very prevalent. It is like we want to shift the burden of the truth from ourselves to someone else. We should carry our own crosses to the very end. To save us from sin, Jesus teaches us to refrain altogether from swearing. Swearing is taking an oath. The oath thus becomes the vow. Once you break the vow, it becomes a sin.

In Deuteronomy 23:21-23, God spoke, “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not be slack to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin in you. But if you refrain from vowing, it shall be no sin in you. You shall be careful to perform what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth”. God requires that anything said in His name, sworn, pledged, vowed and anything else, should be in truth and should be fulfilled even if it means to the bitter end. To save ourselves from the curses of breaking any of the vows, we should avoid making any vows at all, otherwise we should stick with our vows through thick and thin.

In Numbers 30:1-15, the Lord our God spoke at length through Moses about all other vows concerning man and woman and between father and his daughter, while in her youth, within her father’s household; “This is what the Lord has commanded. When a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Or when a woman vows a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house, in her youth, and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself, and says nothing to her; then all her vows shall stand.

But if her father expresses disapproval to her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, a pledge by which she has bound herself, shall stand; and the Lord will forgive her, because her father opposed her. And if she is married to a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it, and says nothing to her on the day that he hears; then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if, on the day that the husband comes to hear of it, he expresses disapproval, then he shall make void her vow which was on her, and the thoughtless utterances of her lips, by which she bound herself; and the Lord will forgive her.

But any vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, anything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her. And if she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound herself by a pledge with an oath, and her husband heard of it, and said nothing to her, and did not oppose her; then all her vows shall stand. But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning her pledge of herself, shall not stand: her husband has made them void, and the Lord will forgive her.

Any vow and any biding oath to afflict herself, her husband may establish, or her husband may make void. But if her husband says nothing to her from day to day, then he establishes all her vows, or all her pledges, that are upon her; he has established them, because he said nothing to her on the day that he hears of them. But if he makes them null and void after he has heard of them then he shall bear her iniquity”. Amen

Therefore people, be warned against taking any vows or making any pledges by the spur of the moment or as a show-off. Should you break your pledges or vows made in the name of the Lord our God, then this will return to haunt you in one way or the other, as a consequence to the sin.

l Prosper Tingini is the assembly president of the newly established and registered Children of God Missionary Assembly. As an interdenominational body I invite all who wish to undertake Bible studies with a view to be certified as ministers of religion to contact us on 0771 260 195 or email ptingini@gmail.com

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